On Overwhelm

Or, giving yourself space to breathe when you need to (and some ramblings, probably)

The past few months have been – as for most of the world – quite overwhelming. While I’ve been away from the blog, some stuff happened, which included…

  • In April this year a fire swept through one of UCT’s libraries, destroying a large portion of the special collections housed within.
  • In July we had days of riots and looting in two of our nine provinces (including the one I live in) which left hundreds dead.
  • We’ve remained in lockdown (and we’re still in lockdown).
  • Losing my full-time job and becoming a freelancer overnight became very real, including getting used to a new lifestyle and a new way of doing things.

Giving myself space to breathe

I ended up taking a break from almost everything that wasn’t necessary and social media was high on that list as many platforms cough Twitter cough became very toxic. I think I’m also still (well, to a lesser degree, definitely) burnt out and need to fill my creative well again.
But that’s hardly something that only I’m struggling with at the moment!
I realised that I was quick to give other creators that I follow a break when they needed it, but wouldn’t give myself the same type of space. Which is silly, I know.

One way of giving myself space to breathe, was also to basically wipe my Twitter account and start over. It had become such a negative place that I just downloaded all my data (and wow was there a lot after 10 years!) and started my account all over.
I’m still @CarinMarais on Twitter, though, so that hasn’t changed. I’m just trying to focus more on the writing side of life on there and not so much on All of the Things.

On writing newsletters

However, I have been writing the fiction newsletter Phantasms and Shadow Images and am on my way to start the newsletter Crafting a Way to Wellness.
Here are some of the fiction posts that you might find interesting. If you do, be sure to sign up and receive the new posts in your inbox!

On reading

I’m currently reading Telling the Bees and Other Customs: The Folklore of Rural Crafts by Mark Norman (I got my copy on Kobo, though physical copies are also available and come highly recommended!).
I really need to catch up on my TBR pile as well, so in-between work-related and craft-related books I’ll be reading books that I’ve bought over time and have squirreled away to read later. And I’ll try not to buy even moar books too soon…
Not to mention that there are books that I want to read again and I really need to finish the Wheel of Time series as well!

On music

At the moment I seem to be slightly obsessed with the La Morte Dell’unicorno album by Murmur Mori.
Here are two spring songs sung by them (seeing as how it’s spring on this side of the planet and my garden is coming alive!):

On crafting: the Mermaid Tail Shawl is complete!

It only took 5 years and 3km of thread, but I finally finished the Mermaid Tail shawl! Looooooooook!

It’s made with 12 balls of Elle Crochet Nr5 crochet thread and a 2mm crochet hook. I made the pattern up as I went along.

So, basically, this is what I’m doing…

Being a bookish kind of person, I invested a couple of dollars into Becca Syme’s book Dear Writer, Are You In Burn Out? Warning Signs, Common Stages, Recovery Strategies (I got my copy on Amazon) when I realised that I’d gotten myself burnt out (again) without having given myself time to heal from the Great Burnout of 2019. (Well, I guess I couldn’t have seen 2020 coming now, could I?)
Becca’s book really helped a lot in giving me tools to start to put a new, more conducive, routine in place that takes my health into account holistically. Not to mention being blessed enough to have quite regular CBT sessions!
This new routine includes:

  • Slowing down and living more mindfully
  • Working on improving my craft(s)
  • Giving myself space and grace when I need it
  • Remembering that I am not, in fact, a machine that can keep on churning out work indefinitely without rest and refilling the creative well, so to speak.

‘Cause, wow, I think I used up a year’s spoons in the space of a few months.

Oops.

I’m so thankful I’m getting better now!

I’m also working hard on time management regarding my own projects, especially The Ruon Chronicles. I’ve found that these two Crowdcasts by Jessica Abel (she of The Autonomous Creative) really helped:
Jessica Abel and Sarah Von Bargen
Jessica Abel and Kyla Roma

Until next time, I leave you with this beautiful song by Radical Face…

By Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.

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